Anniversary of special cricket match at Wymondham’s Kings Head Meadow

Residents in Wymondham may not realise that regular cricket was once played on the iconic Kings Head Meadow – and 80 years ago this month a special game was staged which captured the imagination of the sporting townsfolk.

In that memorable match the town faced a team of Norfolk County players, brought together for the occasion by John 'Jack' Nichols, the county coach. Nichols had enjoyed a long professional playing career with Staffordshire, Norfolk and in the first class game for Worcestershire, but the foundations had been laid on the Kings Head Meadow, where his father, also named John, had been the head groundsman.

At one time John senior, had kept the Cross Keys pub on the Market Place, but he later moved to a house in Elm Terrace near the sports ground.

In the mid-1930s Norfolk were a dominant force in Minor Counties cricket and the team Nichols assembled was a formidable one.

It included 16-year-old W.J.'Bill' Edrich, who had just made his debut for Norfolk and would go on to become a legend with Middlesex and England, Nichols having coached the young prodigy. Also in the side was Edrich's brother Geoffrey, then aged just 14, who would later play with distinction for Lancashire. Nichols' XI made 103 for 5 declared and dismissed Wymondham for 44. Bill Edrich scored an unbeaten 66, but Norman Brighton, the town's feared fast bowler, did take four wickets for only seven runs – a creditable performance which earned him a few games for the county the following season. In a similar match in 1933 Bill Edrich rattled up 73 not out in a score of 163 for 4, while again Wymondham were all out for 44.

These results do not reflect Wymondham's standing in local cricket over the years they played on the Kings Head Meadow and they were a force to be reckoned with among local clubs. In 1934, for example, they dismissed a strong Blofield team, which included two of the Edrich family, for 14 (Brighton 4-4), having scored 130 for 7 themselves. Then between 1955 and 1963 they won the Kimberley Cup seven times.

Cricket had been played on the hallowed turf of the Kings Head Meadow since at least 1856 and when the town moved to the Browick Road Recreation Ground, in 1958 it was never the same again.

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Eventually Wymondham amalgamated with Great Melton to form Great Melton and Wymondham Cricket Club, but in 1990 the club became just Great Melton Cricket Club with matches being played at Melton Park. Today the town no longer boasts a cricket club.

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